Masterplan highlights future opportunities for part of Ashley River/Rakahuri
We're pleased to be able to share the Rangiora Reach Masterplan, which aims to deliver a cohesive landscape plan for a section of the Ashley River/Rakahuri.
The masterplan will guide future development and management of Rangiora Reach – the part of the awa/river from Dunlops Road to Beatties Road on the north side near Rakahuri, and Merton Road to Smarts Road on the south side near Rangiora.
It will be used by agencies managing this land – ourselves and Waimakariri District Council, in collaboration with mana whenua and the community.
The masterplan reflects around two years of conversation, consultation, feedback, workshops, and hui we’ve had with the community. We hope it reflects people's values and priorities, but also helps meet the need to keep them safe through a changing climate.
The values and priorities included throughout the development of the masterplan include:
- Significance to Ngāi Tūāhuriri
- Ongoing flood protection
- Climate change
- Landscape and natural character
- Indigenous biodiversity
- Braided River Revival
The braided river revival team is happy to be able to deliver a plan to the community that balances their values and priorities alongside flood protection and climate change too.
As our environment changes, it's important to shape future planning in a way that protects both the ecosystems within that environment and also the people who call that place home.
While there were some non-negotiable structural elements like flood protection, we hope the masterplan will help to set the vision as we work towards achieving a living, thriving awa.
Continued conversations and future opportunities
"We'd like to thank everyone who took the time to let us know their thoughts," said Greg Stanley, Regional Lead for Braided River Revival.
"Although we haven't been able to offer increased amenities for absolutely every suggestion we received, the conversations around those suggestions will continue and we look forward to identifying future opportunities to enhance them in this reach, or along other areas of the awa," he said.
With an agreed set of values established, the masterplan is a way we can ensure future development of the area will reflect those values.
Work is already underway with the community, such as the planting in the Cones Road area. Other components will require continued planning by Environment Canterbury and Waimakariri District Council to see how we can creatively collaborate to achieve the masterplan outcomes.
"It's a big step forward and something we're proud to have partnered with the community on, but the mahi is just beginning!" he said.
Discussions to develop high-level masterplans for our parks and rivers have been ongoing for a number of years. The Rangiora Reach area was identified as a priority project to work on in collaboration with Waimakariri District Council, to ensure that cohesive landscape planning was occurring both across agencies in the Rangiora Reach area.
In 2020, tree removal took place between the primary and secondary stopbanks in the Ashley Rakahuri Regional Park adjacent to Cones Road.
At this location, a weak point is formed where the primary stopbank reduces the effective width of the Rakahuri from one kilometre to around 300 metres to fit under the bridge. This narrowing of the river increases the water velocity and, with it, the erosion risk. To mitigate this risk, we installed a secondary stopbank.
Trees were later felled in between the primary and secondary stopbanks to ensure that the area can effectively function as a floodway if the primary stopbank fails – passing flood water around the road bridge and returning it to the riverbed downstream.
Without the secondary stopbank and effective floodway, if the Rakahuri flooded, these flood waters were likely to flow directly through Rangiora township resulting in widespread damage. In addition to the flood protection need, the felled trees were also in poor health – rotten in the middle and unstable/hazardous to park users.
Following the tree removal, the community expressed the high amenity, nature and recreational value they placed on this area. Thus, the concept of the Rangiora Reach Masterplan was born in order to ensure future planning of the area took into account these values.
As populations expand, new forms of recreation have developed, placing considerable pressure and competing demands on the river and its ecology.
Collaborative and cohesive landscape planning is essential to ensuring people are still able to enjoy the wonderful things our rivers can offer, but also that flood protection and climate change are key considerations in the development of these areas.
We've worked with the Waimakariri District Council, community and stakeholders to create the masterplan for Rangiora Reach, to ensure the multiple values of this area are balanced including, flood protection function, amenities, and natural and recreational values.
- Community consultation was undertaken in March 2022 to gather the values that were most important to the community.
- A draft masterplan was released in November 2022, which incorporated those values.
- The community provided feedback which was used to make further edits to the masterplan.
- The final masterplan is now available for implementation.
The masterplan has been developed with support from Ngāi Tūāhuriri and key community groups such as the Ashley Rakahuri Rivercare Group.
The masterplan process is supported by funding from the Climate Resilience Programme of Flood Risk Management Projects from the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment’s Kānoa – Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit.
Throughout the consultation process, many people told us that they would like to see planting carried out in the Cones Road area during this year's planting season (2022) if it could be done in a way that will not hinder the flood overflow function of the area.
The entire area cannot be replanted; however, we have found we were able to install smaller, deliberately located, nodes of low-height natives with a small number of well-maintained shade trees for the community's enjoyment.
Low-height dryland natives will fold over in a flood and, when contained to smaller nodes, will not hinder the flow capacity and function of the floodway.
Around 3,000 plants have been planted by staff, contractors and the community.
We'd like to thank those who came and supported the revegetation of this area and who have engaged with us throughout this process.
Strategic direction for the Ashley River/Rakahuri
The Rangiora Reach Masterplan is contributing to Environment Canterbury's Whakahaumanu Ngā Awa ā Pākihi/Braided River Revival and the draft Ashley River/Rakahuri Revival Strategy which will be available to view in 2023.